New rule to manage e-waste

08:35, June 07, 2010      

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Under a new regulation set to take effect in January, old refrigerators, washing machines and other unwanted electronic devices must be sent to a government-authorized facility for processing before they are recycled.

The regulation was developed to help reduce waste and curb environmental pollution.

The government will establish a licensing system for the disposal and recycling of e-wastes, under which only enterprises with a proper license are eligible for e-waste disposal.

Furthermore, a centralized system to deal with e-waste will be established after manufacturers, flea markets, appliance repair networks or individual vendors collect them.

The centralized treatment plants must have adequate facilities for treating pollutants based on standards and requirements of pollution control and environmental protection.

Unlicensed scrap metal facilities will be shut down and face fines of up to 500,000 yuan (73,209 U. S. dollars) for violations.

Zhang Lijun, vice-minister of environmental protection, said China produces more than 10 million pieces of such waste a year.

Government data indicates that nearly 25 million TV sets, 5.4 million refrigerators, 10 million washing machines, 1 million air conditioners, 12 million computers, 6 million printers and 40 million mobile phones were thrown out in 2009.

The regulation anticipates the cooperation of everyone including governments, companies and individuals to help reduce e-waste, authorities said at a ceremony to mark World Environment Day Saturday.

"Due to the pursuit of economic interests, a large number of workshops in China use some backward methods to deal with e-waste including burning them outdoors or acid soaking, which will cause serious damage to our environment and people's health," Zhang said.

The regulation is expected to recover valuables such as copper, iron and aluminum, and curb the pollution caused by uncontrolled handling.

The regulation also targets e-waste that ends up in China from Western countries, which has been on the rise in years.

A report from the Basel Action Network and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition estimated that 80 percent of the world's high-tech trash is exported to Asia, and 90 percent of that flows into China.

The regulation said all imported electrical products should meet the requirements for pollution control and enterprises should adopt the design conducive to innocuous treatment and recycling.

In January of this year, two people suspected of smuggling more than 10 tons of e-wastes from Western countries to Chongqing were arrested.

"Discarded home appliances contain reclaimable metals and other materials whose recycling value cannot be underestimated if properly treated," Zhang said.

Source: Global Times


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